Michael Barker joined Westport Country Playhouse in 2016 from Mill Valley, CA, where he was the managing director of Marin Theatre Company. Previously, Barker was general manager of Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, CA, and managing director for the Los Angeles classical theater ensemble The Antaeus Company. Before moving to California, Barker was associate managing director at Yale Repertory Theatre and managing director of Yale Summer Cabaret, and produced the first annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays. He was Seattle Repertory Theatre’s 2008 Managing Director Fellow. Prior to graduate school, he was associate director of marketing for Court Theatre in Chicago, and also worked with Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Sansculottes Theater Company, and The Playground Theater.
At Westport Country Playhouse, in partnership with Mark Lamos, Barker leads a staff of twenty-seven and hundreds of freelance artists and artisans annually. Under his leadership, the Playhouse joined the League of Resident Theaters (LORT), the national collective bargaining unit for major regional theaters in the United States. In 2019, the Playhouse adopted a five-year strategic plan including artistic, financial, infrastructure, and equity initiatives.
Barker holds an MFA in theater management from Yale School of Drama and an MBA from Yale School of Management. At Yale, he was the recipient of the Daniel and Helene Sheehan Scholarship for theater management and a Kosciusko Scholarship for outstanding students of Polish descent. He served on the Yale School of Management Alumni Advisory Board and as an Association of Yale Alumni delegate. He trained with artEquity as a diversity, equity and inclusion facilitator.
He serves as a grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. He is an elected member of the Board of Finance in Trumbull, CT where he lives with his wife, the costume designer Heidi Leigh Hanson, and 7-year-old son, Lawrence.
Westport Country Playhouse: Artistic Director since 2009. Broadway: Our Country’s Good (Tony nomination); The Rivals, Cymbeline, Seascape (Tony nomination, best revival) for Lincoln Center Theater; The Deep Blue Sea; The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm. Off-Broadway: Tiny Alice, Measure for Measure (Lortel Awards for both); productions at Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, Signature Theatre, The Public Theater, Shakespeare in the Park (As You Like It). Mr. Lamos was Artistic Director of Hartford Stage for 16 seasons (1989 Tony Award). Other theater: Kennedy Center, Canada’s Stratford Festival, Guthrie Theater, Yale Repertory Theatre (Associate Artist), A.C.T., The Old Globe, Delaware Rep, Ford’s Theatre, D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and others. He was the first American to direct a company in the former Soviet Union (Desire Under the Elms at Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre), and the first to act as dramaturge in the creation of a ballet (Alexei Ratmansky’s The Tempest for American Ballet Theatre.) His work in opera is extensive. For the Metropolitan Opera: New productions of I Lombardi with Luciano Pavarotti, and Wozzeck (both televised for “Great Performances”), as well as the world premiere of Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, and Adriana Lecouvreur with Placido Domingo. Mr. Lamos created many productions for NYC Opera, including televised productions of Paul Bunyan, Tosca, Central Park, and Madama Butterfly (Emmy Award). Other opera: Glimmerglass, Bergen National, Gothenberg, Munich Biennale, London’s Barbican, L’Opera du Montreal, Chicago Lyric, Santa Fe, St. Louis, Dallas, San Francisco, and others. Lamos began his career in the theater as an actor on and Off-Broadway and in regional theater and made his film debut in Longtime Companion. He was awarded the Connecticut Medal for the Arts as well as honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, Trinity College, and the University of Hartford. In October 2016, Mr. Lamos was the recipient of the John Houseman Award.